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Muthos

By | Jan. 2006
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In his Poetics Aristotle states that Muthos comes first in tragedy and is all important. Without it there is no tragedy. Discuss his claim in relation to one or two plays studied this term.

In his Poetics Aristotle puts the Muthos before anything else. Muthos is the plot/storyline of a play. You should be able to follow the line of the plot throughout the text. If one element of the text can be removed then it fails as a tragedy. Tragedy must have a beginning, middle and an end, not necessarily in that order but scenes must relate to each other and be ‘unified'. We see this in Marina Carr's Portia Coughlin. The end is in the middle of the play but the plot is still unified. In his Poetics Aristotle states that there are three main functions of Muthos, peripeteia (reversal) and anagonorisis (recognition or discovery). Periperteia is the point in which ‘the circumstances change to their direct opposite' and should be ‘inevitable or plausible.' It is the pivotal moment when the character is forced to see a situation in a different light. In Portia Coughlin this comes in act one scene seven, up until this point she has tolerated Raphael but here she explodes and tells him exactly how she feels. The audience already know how she feels but this is the first time she says it out loud. Recognition is the point at which the character realises what has happened and attempts to take action whether this is for better or worse. The recognition in Portia Coughlin comes in act three scene three when she is sitting on the bank with Maggie, she talks about Gabriel and how she wishes she could be with him. This is when she starts thinking about carrying through the pact that they made which left him dead. I believe this because this is when she starts to give Raphael a little attention and for the first time talks about having to pick her children up from school. The third element of tragedy that Aristotle talks about seems to be extremely obvious, this is Pathos...

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